"Today, we got started by reviewing the analogies problems the student completed as part of his homework. I introduced two main strategies that he should use when approaching these problems. First, he should look at the parts of speech of the two words in the prompt and look for an answer choice with the same two parts of speech. For example, if the first prompt word is a noun and the second an adjective, 99% of the time the correct answer will be " [noun] is to [adjective] " as well. This is a good way for him to start ruling out incorrect choices.
The second strategy is what I call "use it in a sentence". This involves inserting the two prompt words into a simple, straightforward sentence demonstrating their relationship. No need to be creative, the simpler the better, as it will be easier to remember this way. So for the question:
1. Zoology is to animals as
(A) Geology is to rocks
(B) Biology is to petroleum
(C) Weather is to meteorology
(D) Philosophy is to government
(E) Insect is to etymology
Our sentence might be "Zoology is the study of animals." From here, we insert each of the pairs of answer words in place of the prompt pair and look for which two words create a sentence that makes logical sense and demonstrates the same relationship as the original sentence. So we would rule out:
(B) "Biology is the study of petroleum"
(C) "Weather is the study of meteorology"
(D) "Philosophy is the study of government"
(E) "Insect is the study of etymology"
leaving us with the correct choice: (A) "Geology is the study of rocks"
After teaching him these two strategies, he went on to complete two more sections of analogies both with perfect scores. I'm completely confident this won't be a problem area for him at all We're going to keep crunching some key vocab words and word roots over this week, so by Saturday we should be in good shape.
Moving on from analogies, he completed three reading comprehension sections independently. The first was a very abstract narrative about healing and human connection, the second was a poem, and the third was an excerpt from a science journal. Predictably, he fared better (in fact he got every question right) on the science passage than on the first two. The point I drove home here was that the test makers are going to try to trip him and his classmates up by throwing in super abstract, poetic, "flowery" passages that they'll look at and immediately think "I have no idea what's going on here." This throws off their confidence and their focus and mistakenly leads them to believe they need to apply some other strategy or approach than they would use on the more fact-based passages. Nothing could be further from the truth. They just need to keep their cool and not be intimidated by the abstract nature of these passages and apply the same strategies we've been honing all along. Boys in particular tend to stumble on these readings, but by Saturday, he will know not to panic when he sees them.
For homework, I'm having him finish the remaining reading comp sections on his own. This will reserve the time we have together over the next week for talking through strategy and going over any questions he missed (as opposed to me waiting on the other end of the phone for him to work through readings during our sessions). I also want him to study the new vocab words I added to his running dictionary."